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Tangled in Divine(Divine Creek Ranch 14)(4)

By:Heather Rainier



What Julián didn’t say was that he was set for money, thanks to his time in another life, spent wearing a suit and sipping lattes on Wall Street. He could easily afford the pay-through-the-nose shipping rates to get the gifts where they needed to go by Monday, if it wasn’t too late by the time he found everything. “I’ll make it work somehow. Let’s just get done so we can get to town.”

He wondered again about what to send Gwen. What would she like now that she was starting a new chapter in her life? A chapter that could mean their paths might never cross again.

What could a tumbleweed like him offer her anyway? He liked Divine but hadn’t felt the pull yet to put down roots in the quaint little town. It felt like home sometimes but there was something missing. Maybe he’d be a tumbleweed his whole life. The thought depressed him.

Memories of the last time he’d seen her came to him. He’d thought the night out at The Dancing Pony was going downhill, after being confronted by the irate boyfriend of a very inebriated but undeniably enticing Jayne Sheridan. Though he now counted Jayne and her new husband, Seth Carter, as his good friends, he’d thought the night would end on a sour note. Then the Martinezes had shown up, with Gwen in tow.

He’d always thought of her as “the one who got away.” For one reason or another, the opportunity to spend time alone with her had never presented itself, either already being hooked up with someone else, or one leaving town when the other was just arriving.

He’d thought they would finally have their moment that night as they’d gazed into each other’s eyes on the dance floor at The Dancing Pony, moving together as though they were one, already joined. She’d been the only thing he could see, and he felt about ten feet tall when she looked at him the way she had. He kissed her as they danced and she whispered in his ear that she wanted him. Her siren’s plea still echoed in his memory.

They’d said good-night to their friends and had slipped out to his truck. But a few more sweltering kisses were all they’d had time for, before her phone had rung. The call had been regarding a family emergency. She’d regretfully asked for a rain check, before going back in the club to let the Martinezes know she needed to get back to the ranch.

At the time, she hadn’t told him the exact nature of the emergency, but he respected that she put a high priority on family and hoped for another opportunity in the future. That’d been five months before.

She’d gotten his cell phone number from him before leaving and had been in contact since then, mostly when she was driving the long miles between events in her big red dually pickup. He’d never really been one to enjoy talking on the phone but he’d always looked forward to chatting with her.

They’d called each other since then but between work and traveling they hadn’t been in a position to make plans to visit. The end of the year had been a whirlwind of finishing up her career as a barrel racing competitor. Hell, she was more than a competitor. She had several world championship titles under her belt.

Julián tried to cast off the longing and melancholy that thinking of her inspired. He wanted her, but her dreams were in Colorado, and he was there in Texas.

Chris led the saddled horse from the stall and stopped outside in the walkway. “Hey, daydreamer. You didn’t answer me.”

“What?”

“I just wondered what it would take to get her down here for a visit. I’d like to meet her face-to-face someday.”

“One look at your big ugly mug and she’ll be jumping back in her dually and hauling ass home, Guido.”

Chris delivered a cinderblock-like punch to his shoulder and replied, “Fuck you, Julió. You’re just scared she wouldn’t be able to resist my Italian charm and good looks.”

“Yeah, maybe so. But then you’d open your mouth and I won’t have to worry.” He didn’t bother punching Chris back as they walked out of the barn, because the giant probably wouldn’t even feel it anyway.





Chapter Two




They sat in her father’s cluttered office, located in the den of the aging, expansive ranch house. Her first plan had been to redo the office for him and buy him a new, unblemished desk. That hope was gone.

“Everything?”

Her father’s cheeks were ruddy and he could barely hold eye contact with her. Such a change in the man she knew and loved. “Pretty near. I’m so sorry, sweetie. I can’t believe I did somethin’ so foolish. I trusted the man who gave me the tip. I felt completely certain that I could triple the money.”

She couldn’t speak, so she whispered. “Zephyr?”

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